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6105.0 - Australian Labour Market Statistics, Apr 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/04/2009   
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WORK AND FAMILY BALANCE


EMPLOYED PEOPLE CARING FOR YOUNG CHILDREN


INTRODUCTION

People who have young children may face many challenges in their effort to balance work and family life. Achieving this balance is important, not only for the welfare of the individuals and their children, but also for economic development, in general, by supporting the labour force participation of parents. (end note 1)

The data used in this article are from the Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation (SEARS) 2007. The survey assumed that care was provided by any parent/guardian (aged 15 years and over) who had their own children aged 0-14 years living with them. In addition, other adults (aged 15 years and over) in the household were explicitly asked about their provision of care to any children in the household. Those who reported that they had provided care are included in this analysis.

1. Conceptual Framework
Diagram: 1.  Conceptual Framework


The article looks at peoples' working arrangements, child care arrangements, and perceptions of time stress and work and family balance as reported by employed men and women with young children.

Of the 10.3 million employed people in April to July 2007, 3.4 million (33%) cared for children aged 0-14 years who lived in their own household. About 1.5 million (43%) employed people cared for children aged 0-4 years, 0.9 million (61%) of these were men and 0.6 million (39%) were women. The higher proportion of men reflects the fact that most men with young children (end note 2) were engaged in paid work (92%), while only half (50%) of women with young children (end note 2) were engaged in paid work.

2. Labour force status, by whether had young children(a)

With young children(a)
Without young children(a)
Total
Males
Females
Males
Females
Males
Females

Employed ('000)
896.6
571.1
4 808.9
4 087.3
5 705.6
4 658.3
Unemployed ('000)
29.8
35.0
242.2
222.3
272.0
257.3
Labour Force ('000)
926.4
606.1
5 051.2
4 309.6
5 977.6
4 915.7
Not in the Labour Force ('000)
51.1
533.0
2 074.6
2 828.4
2 125.7
3 361.4
Total ('000)
977.5
1 139.1
7 125.7
7 137.9
8 103.3
8 277.1
Proportion employed (%)
91.7
50.1
67.5
57.3
70.4
56.3
Participation rate (%)
94.8
53.2
70.9
60.4
73.8
59.4

(a) Children aged 0-4 years living in the same household.
Source: ABS Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation 2007.



Age and sex

Of the 1.5 million employed people aged over 15 years with young children (end note 2), 1.4 million (94%) were aged 25-54 years. There was also a small proportion (0.1 million or 6%) of employed people (with young children2) in the 15-24 year old and 55 years and over age groups, in part reflecting the fact that caring for young children (end note 2) is not limited to parents and step-parents. A small proportion (3%) of employed people who reported that they cared for young children (end note 2) were grandparents, older siblings or other related and non-related household members.

The following analysis is limited to those employed people who were aged 25-54 years and provided care for young children (end note 2). This has been done in order to focus on those employed people within the age group often referred to as the 'prime working age', which is also the age at which most people have and raise children.


Hours usually worked

Usual working hours differ considerably between men and women with young children (end note 2). Men aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) were more likely than women to work longer hours, with half (50%) of these men usually working 45 hours per week or more. In contrast, one quarter (26%) of employed women aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) usually worked less than 16 hours per week, and two fifths (40%) worked between 16 and 35 hours. This reflects the fact that women tend to work fewer hours when first returning to paid work after having children, with their hours of work usually increasing as their children grow older.

3. Hours usually worked
Graph: 3. Hours usually worked



Preferred working hours

Many employed men and women with young children (end note 2) reported that they preferred their current hours, with 62% of men and 69% of women aged 25-54 years reporting that they preferred about the same number of hours they currently worked. However, over one quarter (26%) of employed men with young children (end note 2) reported that they would prefer fewer hours than they currently worked, while 19% of employed women with young children (end note 2) reported that they would prefer fewer hours.

4. Employed(a) men and women with young children(b), preference for hours
Graph: 4. Employed(a) men and women with young children(b), preference for hours


Of women with young children (end note 2) who reported wanting fewer hours, almost four fifths (79%) reported 'Caring for children' as the main reason they would like to work fewer hours. In contrast, of men with young children (end note 2) who reported wanting fewer hours, 31% reported 'Other family reasons' as the main reason that they would like to work fewer hours, followed by 'Caring for children' (22%) and 'Social reasons/recreational activities/free time' (21%).


Working patterns

The working patterns of employed people aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) varied by sex. Just under two thirds (61%) of employed men with young children (end note 2) worked only on weekdays in their main job, while 38% combined work on weekdays and weekends. In contrast, 73% of employed women with young children (end note 2) worked on weekdays only, with just 26% using a combination of weekday and weekend work. Of those who worked a combination of weekday and weekend work, over two fifths (42%) of men and almost one third (33%) of women would prefer to only work weekdays, taking into account the effect this would have on their income, including the effects of reduced working hours or the loss of penalty rates, or both.

Over two-fifths of men (40%) and women (44%) aged 25-54 years caring for young children (end note 2) reported working some hours from home in their main job in the previous week. Women were more likely to use working from home as a method of balancing work and caring responsibilities, with almost one third (32%) of women citing 'caring for children' as the main reason they worked from home, followed by 'catching up on work/meet deadlines' (26%). In comparison, only 5% of men who worked some hours at home reported 'caring for children' as the main reason, with the most commonly reported main reason being 'catching up on work/meet deadlines' (38%).

5. Employed(a) people caring for young children(b) who worked from home in their main job, Selected main reason works from home
Graph: 5. Employed(a) people caring for young children(b) who worked from home in their main job, Selected main reason works from home



Job Flexibility

Over one quarter (27%) of male employees (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises) aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) had some say in the days on which they worked in their main job, compared with just over half (51%) of female employees (end note 3) aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2). The higher proportion of female employees able to influence the days on which they worked reflects the fact that a higher proportion of women who cared for young children (end note 2) were 'casual4' (26%, compared to just 12% of men) or worked part-time hours (64%, compared to 7%), giving them greater ability to change the days on which they work than men, who were more likely to be working full-time.

Male employees (end note 3) aged 25-54 years who cared for young children (end note 2) were more likely to have stable work hours than women, with 83% reporting guaranteed minimum hours, compared to over half (56%) of female employees aged 25-54 years who cared for young children (end note 2), again reflecting the higher proportion of women with young children (end note 2) working part-time. Male employees (end note 3) who cared for young children (end note 2) were more likely to be required to be on call or stand-by (32%, compared to 23% of women), however, female employees (end note 3) were more likely to have earnings that varied from week to week (27%, compared to 19% for men).

There was little difference between male employees (end note 3) aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) and those without young children (end note 2) on all four measures of job flexibility. In contrast, job flexibility varied for female employees (end note 3) aged 25-54 years depending on whether they had young children (end note 2).

Female employees aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) were more likely than female employees (end note 3) without young children (end note 2) to be able to influence the days on which they worked, with 51% of women with young children (end note 2) and 37% of women without young children2 having had some say in the days on which they worked. In contrast, a similar proportion of female employees (end note 3) with young children (end note 2) (27%) and without young children (end note 2) (23%) had earnings that varied from week to week. Finally, having a minimum number of hours guaranteed was more common for women without young children (end note 2) (65%) than those with young children (end note 2) (56%), reflecting the fact that a higher proportion of women with young children (end note 2) work in part-time employment.

6. Employed women aged 25-54 years, Whether had young children(a), Selected measures of Job Flexibility
Graph: 6. Employed women aged 25–54 years, Whether had young children(a), Selected measures of Job Flexibility



Work and family balance

Just over half of employed people aged 25-54 years who cared for young children (end note 2) reported that their work and family responsibilities were generally in balance, with 53% of men and 56% of women reporting that they felt their work and family responsibilities were always or often in balance. Over one quarter of men (30%) and women (29%) with young children (end note 2) reported that they sometimes felt that their work and family responsibilities were in balance. The proportion of employed men and women with young children (end note 2) who reported that their work and family responsibilities were rarely or never in balance was 17% for men and 16% for women.

7. Employed(a) people who cared for young children(b), Whether feels work and family responsibilities are in balance
Graph: 7. Employed(a) people who cared for young children(b), Whether feels work and family responsibilities are in balance



Time stress

Employed people aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) tended to report higher levels of time stress than employed people aged 25-54 years without young children (end note 2). Almost two thirds (64%) of employed people aged 25-54 years with young children (end note 2) reported always or often feeling rushed or pressed for time, compared to almost half (49%) of employed people without young children (end note 2). Women aged 25-54 years who cared for young children (end note 2) were more likely to report higher levels of time stress than men who cared for young children (end note 2), with almost three quarters (74%) reporting that they always or often felt rushed or pressed for time, compared with 57% of men.

8. Frequency feels rushed or pressed for time, Employed, whether cared for young children(a)
Graph: 8. Frequency feels rushed or pressed for time, Employed, whether cared for young children(a)


Trying to balance work and family responsibilities was the main reason given by both men (55%) and women (66%) with young children (end note 2) for reporting that they always or often felt rushed or pressed for time.

The labour force status of families also had a considerable impact on the reported time stress of people with young children, with almost half (49%) of employed single parents with young children (end note 2) and over one third (37%) of employed adults in couple families with young children (end note 2) reporting that they always felt rushed or pressed for time. In comparison, just over a quarter (28%) of couple families in which one parent was employed and one parent was not employed reported always feeling rushed or pressed for time.


Child care arrangements

Families (end note 5) with young children (end note 2) in which at least one parent was employed often used some form of formal or informal child care. Two thirds (66%) of these families (end note 5) used some type of formal or informal child care in the previous week. Care provided by the child's grandparent(s) was commonly used, with over half (51%) of families (end note 5) who used child care using this form of care. Long day care centres were also commonly used, with 42% of families (end note 5) reporting that they used this form of care.

9. Families(a) with young children(b) in which at least one parent was employed who used childcare, Type of childcare used(c)(d)
Graph: 9. Families(a) with young children(b) in which at least one parent was employed who used childcare, Type of childcare used(c)(d)


The employment status of parents within these families had a considerable impact on whether child care was used, and what type of care was used. For one parent families where the parent was working, 95% used child care in the previous week, with over half (54%) of these families using a combination of formal and informal care. Of those one parent families who used child care, long day care was most commonly used (57%), followed by the child's grandparent (43%).

Over half (54%) of one parent families in which the parent was aged 25-54 years and was not working also used some form of child care in the previous week, indicating that despite the fact that the parent was not working, there was still a need for some form of child care.

10. Labour force status of family(a) caring for young children(b), Proportion that used some form of child care
Graph: 10. Labour force status of family(a) caring for young children(b), Proportion that used some form of child care


For couple families (end note 5) in which both parents were employed, 83% of families used some form of child care. Of these, 31% used only formal child care, 35% used only informal child care, and 34% used a combination of formal and informal care. In contrast, for those couple families with young children2 in which only one parent was employed, less than half (44%) used some form of child care in the previous week.

Whether parents in couple families were employed full-time or part-time also had an influence on the type of child care used. Care provided by the child's grandparent(s) was a commonly used form of child care by all couple families, with the family's full-time/part-time status only making a small difference in the use of this form of child care. Couple families in which both parents worked full-time were more likely to use formal child care arrangements such as Long day care centres (53%) and Family day care (20%) than couple families in which one parent was employed full-time and the other part-time (43% and 11% respectively). In couple families in which one parent was full-time and the other was not employed, formal child care arrangements were still used, though to a lesser extent, with one third (33%) using Long day care centres, and 7% using Family day care.

11. Full-time/Part-time status of couple families(a)(b), Selected child care used
Graph: 11. Full-time/Part-time status of couple families(a)(b), Selected child care used



Income

The equivalised gross weekly household income (end note 6) of families with young children (end note 2) differed considerably depending on the labour force status of both the parents. Equivalence scales are used to adjust the actual incomes of households so that the relative well being of households of differing sizes and compositions can be compared. For example, it would be expected that a two-person household would usually need more income than a lone person household, if the two households are to enjoy the same standard of living. When household income is adjusted according to an equivalence scale, the equivalised income can be viewed as an indicator of the economic resources available to each individual in a household.

Couple families (end note 4) with young children (end note 2) in which both parents worked generally had high equivalised household incomes, with 30% having incomes in the 3rd quintile, another 30% in the 4th quintile, and one quarter (25%) having incomes in the highest quintile. Couple families in which only one parent worked had equivalised household incomes that were lower, with one third (33%) having incomes in the 2nd quintile, another one third (33%) in the 3rd quintile, and just 14% having incomes in the 4th quintile.

One parent families with young children2 in which the parent was employed tended to have equivalised household incomes that were in the middle of the range, with over one third (35%) having equivalised household incomes in the 2nd quintile, over a quarter (25%) in the 3rd quintile, and just 21% in the fourth 4th quintile.

12. Equivalised household income(a)(b), families(c) with young children(d), 25-54 years
Graph: 12. Equivalised household income(a)(b), families(c) with young children(d), 25–54 years



Further Information

For further information about the Survey of Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation, see Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation, Australia, April to July 2007 (cat. no. 6361.0). This publication is available free of charge on the ABS website <www.abs.gov.au>.

For further information about the information presented in this article, please contact Penny Boyd in Canberra on (02) 6252 5884 or email <penny.boyd@abs.gov.au>.


End Notes

1. Babies and Bosses - reconciling work and family life: A synthesis of findings for OECD countries, 2007, OECD Publishing.

2. Children aged 0-4 years living in the same household.

3. Employees excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises.

4. Casual employees are defined as those employees (excluding owner managers of incorporated enterprises) without paid leave entitlements.

5. Families in which at least one parent was aged between 25-54 years.

6. The equivalence factor derived using the 'modified OECD' equivalence scale is determined by allocating points to each person in a household. The first adult in the household is given a weight of 1 point, each additional person aged 15 years and over is allocated 0.5 points, and each child under 15 years is allocated 0.3 points. Equivalised household income is derived by dividing the total household income by a factor equal to the sum of the equivalence points allocated to the household members. The equivalised income of a lone person household is the same as its unequivalised income.



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